Written to expand the definition of the contemporary American family to be more inclusive, this book approaches diversity as the norm and does not assume conventional family values. The theoretical position is the dialectical approach, which assumes paradox and relational tension as normal, rather than a systems approach, which is a form of psychological cause and effect. Chapter One defines `dialectics' in the context of family communication and family relations. Chapter Two addresses the question, `What is a real family?' Chapters Three to Six examine four types of family diversity: structural, cultural, developmental, and functional. Chapter Seven takes a bold step by examining the meaning and effects of family spirituality, a topic rarely considered in academic circles but one that has enormous impact on the communication behaviors and relationships within the family.
Acknowledgements Preface Chapter 1: A Dialectical Approach to Family Conceptual tools Basic concepts Dialectical management patterns Interface of culture patterns Dialectical classifications Chapter 2: Defining the Contemporary Family Defining family Criteria for defining family Chapter 3: Structural Diversity Contemporary family structures Nuclear family Single parent family Blended family Chapter 4: Cultural Diversity Cultural diversity in the family Religion and family culture Diversity in sexual orientation Racial and ethnic diversity Chapter 5: Developmental Diversity Approaches to development The family life cycle approach The learning approach A dialectical approach Chapter 6: Functional Diversity Functional diversity and the family The impact of alcoholism on the family Domestic violence The dark side of divorce Chapter 7: Family Spirituality Bringing light into darkness A spiritual approach 12-Step programs References